How Should a Tuxedo Shirt Fit?

Finding the right fit for your tuxedo shirt will ensure the elegance of your formal ensemble.
Finding the right fit for your tuxedo shirt will ensure the elegance of your formal ensemble. (Image: Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

The word tuxedo is often synonymous with rental, unflattering and uncomfortable -- but it doesn’t have to be. Your tuxedo is supposed to be elegant, and it should always show you at your best. While an ill-fitting tuxedo shirt can bring you down, understanding and wearing a properly fitted shirt can bring out your inner debonair gentleman.


Your tuxedo shirt collar should be carefully considered. The wrong size can be uncomfortable and unflattering – too large and you look like a boy in his father’s suit, too small and you’ll feel like a fish gasping for air. Avoid discomfort and embarrassment by measuring your neck. Place one finger between your neck and the measuring tape; this measurement is an appropriate size for your tuxedo shirt collar.


Ignoring the way your sleeves fit can lead to embarrassment when you remove your jacket. Your shirtsleeves should fit your specific physique. Men with thin arms should avoid sleeves that are too wide for their arms. Conversely, bulky or muscular men should avoid sleeves that are too slim. A properly fitted shirt will hug your shoulders, and the cuff will reach 1/2 inch past your jacket.


As with shirtsleeves, you want to avoid billowing material in the torso. Designer John Varvatos notes that there is nothing elegant about yards of cotton bunched up under your coat. Large shirts accentuate rather than diminish problem areas. Men with slender, average or athletic builds will find that slim-fit or athletic-fit shirts create a sleek, trim appearance. Heavyset men will find that traditional-style tuxedo shirts in big-and-tall sizes provide the most comfortable fits. Fits often vary by brand, so exercise caution when choosing a shirt. When you tuck your shirt, ensure that it neither bunches in the back nor threatens to pop a button.


You won't know how well your shirt fits until you wear it with the accessories. Your bow tie, cummerbund, waistcoat and belt or suspenders will affect how comfortable you are in your tuxedo shirt. When shopping for a tuxedo shirt, ask a salesperson to let you wear these items while you try on shirts. You will be better able to choose the best fit for your physique by trying on all of these items together.

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